Huxley Valley - north fork

New Zealand

December 17-19, 2008

Dave and Jill


Jill gets soaked on the second day - the one that was supposed to be good - on her way back to the Forks Hut.  This trip would have been a soaking wet nightmare except for the hut, which had a cozy fireplace.

A rare and brief hole was showing in the forecast, so desperate for some alpine scenery we headed for the Huxley Valley.  I mistakenly thought the valley to be a ways east of the divide (would have given us better weather), but was correct in noticing the availability of well-spaced huts in the region.  Each of the three days out we were soaked, but salvaged the trip with warm fires in the hut and meeting New Zealanders.  Particularly interesting were the female hikers we cam across who were all impressively keen on fitness and the mountains.  The weather window was indeed brief, but we were able to get views all the way to the top of Broderick Pass.  We skipped the ascent of Mt McKenzie from the pass as clouds obscured it and neighboring Mt Strachon.  I would have enjoyed exploring and photographing more of the impressive upper valley but a driving rain chased us back down valley for a second night in the Forks Hut.  On the five hour walk back to the wagon it only rained lightly, saving the downpour and then snow for the following days.

We hiked two hours on a 4x4 road through the Hopkins Valley.  A little of the valley's beauty was lost by knowing someone with higher clearance could just drive it.


What will it be, rain or showers?  We learned the distinction between these two seemingly similar terms on our trip.  In this frame it looks more like showers in the Hopkins Valley.


Jill hikes along the faint trail through a particularly scenic section of beech forest.


This hunk of iron was our savior.  By evening it felt like a sauna and by morning our gear and boots were dry.


When traveling with Dave, who can be as exciting as milk toast, one must learn to entertain oneself.  On the first night at the hut we had it to ourselves, so Jill played solitaire - Vegas-style, of course.


On the morning of the second day it looked like the weather man was correct - we could see most of the tops of the surrounding peaks.  Here Jill packs her bags at the Forks Hut to head up the north fork of the Huxley Valley in hopes of staying the night in the upper hut.  We ended up returning to the Forks Hut (pictured above) on the second night because of foul weather.


After dropping our packs at the upper hut we took a hike to the top of Broderick Pass.  Jill shows her skill at stream crossing.


Jill huffs and puffs her way toward Broderick Pass.  Many of the NZ trails follow river valleys, and are therefore not real taxing from an endurance perspective.  However, when an NZ trail decides to go up, get ready to work.  The valley behind Jill is the one we walked up (and down) on the second day - the north fork of the Huxley.  The area was fantastically beautiful and I regretted hauling my camera all the way in and not being able to snoop around and get some good photos.


This isn't Mt Everest, just Broderick Pass.  Jill's pose is less triumphant and more, "wow, it's blowing really hard."  The plan was to climb a peak from the pass, but with 60 mph winds and rain/snow on the peak we decided a fireplace sounded better.


Posing on the way back down, out of the wind.


When we returned back to the Forks Hut we had company.  We gained instant rapport with this young Kiwi when we told him where we were from.


On the way out on day #3 I took a few photos of the blue river in some interesting rain-filtered sun light.  The blue color in the rivers is caused by tiny, suspended sediments that were ground up by glaciers that feed the river.  We saw a lot of blue rivers on our trip, but I could just never get over the color - pure succulence to my eyes.


Jill took a wrong turn on the trail and led us to this.  A rare mistletoe hanging in the rain amongst a clean stand of beech.  I realize now that I was supposed to give Jill a kiss, but my first instinct was to grab the camera.

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